November 1, 2016

101 Series – How to Copyright a Song

Registering a copyright can be complicated when it comes to musical works. Many artists ask about how to copyright a song. A song can mean different things to different people. Some may think a song refers to the lyrics of the song. Others may think it refers to a music videos, the recorded song, the composition, the beat or the arrangement. Some may even believe it refers to a live performance of the song.

Starting the Copyrighting Process

The first step in copyrighting a song is to determine what exactly is to be protected with a copyright. Once the song is identified, then we need to look at what is going to be protected. Generally, that means how was the song recorded. To be copyrighted, a song must be an original work which is fixed in a tangible form or expression. If the song is a video, then the video is to be protected. If the song is written down on sheet music, then the sheet music must be registered for copyright.

The process for actually registering the song for copyright protection can be as easy as meeting with a Copyright Attorney who will then obtain a copy of the song and ask a series of questions related to who owns various rights in the song, when was it first published and who will be the owner of the copyright registration.

Instead of using a copyright attorney, a copyright on a song may be registered by the artist directly with the copyright office for a nominal filing fee. A copyright registration for the song can be very valuable to help stop someone who attempts to steal your song. If done correctly, the law provides for statutory damages of up to $150,000 per song infringed, if depending on how the song is registered.

While hiring an attorney to copyright a song is not cheap, in contrast to the amount you could recover against someone who steals your song, it is a small investment for potentially a very large award. If you would like to copyright a song, please contact one of our Copyright attorneys.